Sunday, August 07, 2005

Opt-in Versus Opt-out Marketing

The Reality of Switching

Don Peppers, principal in the 1:1 consultancy Peppers & Rogers, writes in their newsletter about “opt-in versus opt-out: the reality of switching. He cites Seth Godin’s oft-quoted comparison of the two communications models as “one way is to go to a singles bar and propose to everyone you meet; another is to go on a date and build up from there. Opt-out is like going to the singles bar.”

Now, I must admit, I like opt-in communications because they are friendlier, less intrusive and typically more relevant to each customer’s individual situation. Customers choose to visit your website, they choose to receive your newsletter, they choose to post a comment to an article on your blog. That’s the grist for true contextual marketing.

But for the life of me I cannot figure out why there is a debate over which model to use. I want to use both outbound and inbound communications. Outbound can create awareness for your brand’s value message and steer a prospect or customer toward the start of a relationship. But the relationship will not bud unless your communications are relevant to the customer, and the quicker you notice the customer’s interests, needs and expectations, the sooner the relationship will bud.

But give me both opt-out (outbound, intrusive) and opt-in (inbound, relevant) in my toolbox. Each has its place in building and nurturing customers.

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